Dante's Divine Comedy

Discussion in 'Poetry and Song' started by BayouHuguenot, Jun 30, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Has anyone read this? I am on Purgatorio at the moment. T They came across those who had been envious of others in their lives and now they were being scourged by "whips of love."

    I thought that was a neat use of metaphors.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  2. weinhold

    weinhold Puritan Board Freshman

    The Commedia is one of the greatest books ever written. Let's keep discussing it as you progress through the three realms. What, for instance, did you make of Satan's status in hell? Compared to Milton, for instance, Dante's understanding seems to make Satan a laughable character!

  3. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I laughed at the bitter line qui diavol ti tocca?
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I finished Purgatory. It was awesome. While disagreeing with the Catholic premise to the book, the psychology in it was often inisghtful. I also found the rhyming very pleasing.
  5. weinhold

    weinhold Puritan Board Freshman

    Congratulations on completing Purgatory. It is indeed interesting to contemplate the uniquely Catholic and Medieval vision of the three realms, and I also find the traditionally Catholic language for the Church quite helpful. The Church is: Militant (Earth), Suffering (Purgatory), Triumphant (Heaven). These categories are, I think, of great assistance to us in thinking about the nature of Christ's Church, although as a Protestant I would of course collapse the distinction between Church Militant and Church Suffering, i.e. There is a Now/Not Yet dialectic at work. All such theological pedantry aside, would you care to discuss any particularly poignant moments in the book? Also, what translation were you reading?
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I was reading the Dorothy Sayers translation. Her commentary was outstanding.
  7. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

  8. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    Couldn't you interpret Purgatory as the church militant? What was the status of the doctrine of purgatory during Dante's time? I was recommended Mandelbaum's translation. I have his Aeneid.
  9. caddy

    caddy Puritan Board Senior

    Not entirely sure, but from the Introduction of Sayer's work on the 2nd book of the 3, I have the following:

    Of the three books of the Commedia, the Purgatorio is, for English readers, the least known, the least quoted-- and the most beloved.

    There are perfectly understandable reasons for the common reader's neglect of this tenderest, subtlest, and most human section of the Comedy. One must, of course, allow, in Protestant countries, for a widespread ignorance of, and half-unconscious resistance to, the whole doctrine of Purgatory.

    It has been well said by a great saint that the fire of Hell is simply the light of God as experienced by those who reject it; to those, that is, who hold fast to their darling illusion of sin, the burning reality of holiness is a thing unbearable. To the penitent, that reality is a torment so long and only so long as any vestige of illusion remains to hamper their assent to it: they welcome the torment, as a sick man welcomes the pains of surgery, in order that the last crippling illusion may be burned away.

    Purgatory is the resolute breaking-down, at whatever cost, of the prison walls, so that the soul may be able to emerge at last into liberty and endure unscathed the unveiled light of reality. To this end:

    ...heavenly justice keeps desire
    Set toward the pain as once 'twas toward the sin.

    Whether in Hell or in Purgatory, you get what you want -- if that is what you really do want. If you insist on having your own way, you will get it: Hell is the enjoyment of your own way forever. If you really want God's way for you, you will get it in Heaven, and the pains of Purgatory will not deter you, they will be welcomed as the means to that end.

    This reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode where a ganster dies, goes to what he thinks is heaven and gets everything he wants, all the time. He wins every hand at blackjack, has all the $$ from every winning hand and game he plays, but he cannot leave the room he's in. I remember seeing that when I was 7 or 8 and thinking how close to Hell that must be.

    Interesting is this from Sayers:

    It must always be remembered that for Dante, as for all Catholic Christians, man is a responsible being. The dishonouring notion that he is the helpless puppt of circumstance or temperment, and therefore not justly liable to punishment or reward, is one whic the poet over and over again goes out of his way to refute. That is why so many of the "sermons" in the Purgatory deal with the subject of Free Will. When every allowance is made ( and Dante makes generous allowance ), when mercy and pity and grace have done all they can, the consequences of sin are the sinner's -- to be borne, at his own choice, in a spirit of sullen rebellion or of ready acquiescence.

    It is the jealousy for the independence of the creature that prompts the means for man's redemption: "For God was more generous in giving Himself, to enable man to raise himself again, than if He had by His own power remitted [the consequences of the Fall]." This redemption is open to every man, individually, to accept or reject, because his will is free, and God will not ursup it.

    Sounds eerily familiar huh?

    To make a great boast about defying Omnipotence is bombastic and absurd: it is a thing that any fool can do, since his freedom is itself the act of Omnipotence.

    We are reminded that Augustine himself in The City of God definately accepts the idea of Purgatory as an extension and completion of the purifying trials of earth: "As for temporal pain, some endure it here and some hereafter, and some both here and there; yet all is past before the Last judgment."

    Good article:
    Love and Suffering in Dante's Purgatory

    The Divine Comedy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Touchstone Article on Sayers ( Good Magazine ):


    On Sayers:

    Dorothy L. Sayers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2007
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page